Steve Weatherford: ‘Peyton Manning Is The Greatest Player To Step Foot On Turf’
It’s not easy being a punter. Yeah, people cheer you when you stick one inside the 5-yard line, but fans – even your own teammates – never want you on the field. Why? Because your presence means the offense stalled or you’re out of field-goal range. Or both.
“It’s a lonely, lonely life,” Weatherford joked on The John Feinstein Show. “The bottom of the totem pole is awfully cold.”
Weatherford, 31, has played for five teams in his eight-year career: the Saints, the Chiefs, the Jaguars, the Jets and now the Giants. Why is the lifestyle of a punter so nomadic?
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Weatherford said. “A lot of coaches are not going to trust a young kicker or punter – and rightfully so. You might have a young guy that’s going to be cheaper than a veteran (and might have) a stronger leg, but you can’t trust him. I think that’s one thing that Tom Coughlin really enjoys about having veteran kickers and punters. He can trust them. Can we hit the ball 60 yards every time? No. I can hit it 60 yards every once in a while. But he wants a guy that (he) knows can put the ball inside the 20 consistently, he can directional punt (and) he can do his best to eliminate a returner by punting the ball out of bounds.
“Also, we don’t have to learn the playbook, so you can plug us in midseason and it’s no big deal. My playbook is toes at 15, wait for the snap, punt right, punt left. It’s pretty simple, man.”
While punting pretty much is what it is, Weatherford said he’s in favor of altering extra points.
“I think they should spice (those) up, maybe move it back 10 yards,” he said. “I think it’ll change a lot. Let’s take Billy Cundiff, for example. When the game is on the line, 10 yards is a lot. A 32-yarder in the AFC Championship? Those are missable.”
Weatherford also discussed the possibility of teams having one person handle all kickoffs, field goals and punts.
“It’s tough,” he said. “And I think the reason it’s tough is not because it’s two different kicking motions. It’s because the season is so long. So by the time I get to Week 15 or 16, my leg is tired. And I will never say that to any of my teammates because half of their fingers are broken, but it’s a long season. You’ve got four preseason games and then you’ve got 16 regular-season games. By the time you get to the Super Bowl, you’ve played two college seasons back-to-back.”
Looking ahead to this Sunday, Weatherford said that weather will be a factor and that it’s going to affect a lot more than just kickers and punters.
“You look at this game,” he said. “You’ve got the Denver Broncos, you’ve got the Seattle Seahawks but then you’ve got the weather. I think that’s the other opponent that a lot of people are talking about, but I don’t know if they get it.”
Like most people, Weatherford feels inclement weather benefits Seattle. But if it’s not inclement?
“You give Peyton Manning two weeks to game plan anybody – I don’t care if it’s the ’85 Bears defense – he’s going to roll them,” Weatherford said. “He is the greatest player to step foot on turf.”